Sunday, January 17, 2016

Helping the beavers with energency repairs

We discovered a few days ago that Willow's dam had given way, leaving the beavers' high and dry in mid-January.

Late this afternoon, Matthew, Zoot, and I set out to see if we could assist Willow with her dam predicament. The beavers had started a new dam just downstream from their lodge and food cache. We thought we might help raise the water level by providing them with some building materials for repairs. Once at the pond, I set off downstream with the sled and loaded it with debris from the broken dam while M jammed debris and a log in the biggest leak. He also observed that much grass had been used in the construction of that section of dam, and when he tried it himself, it proved quite efficacious.
Matthew saws a log to plug the adjacent dam leak.

I decided to head upstream to confirm that these dam repairs were necessary. There the beavers had built a dam during the summer, and a nice little pond had formed. The banks there were higher—better for a bank lodge—and the water was deeper. This pond would provide much better shelter than any that might arise behind the puny dam we were working on. Unfortunately, their winter food supply was downstream in the area where the new dam might help. If the beavers were, in fact, in residence upstream, moving their food supply to the upper pond would be much more helpful than trying to raise the water level downstream.

Dusk settled—time for the beavers to become active. I could see a few openings in the ice above the intact dam, and from one of these a slippery slide led into a plunge hole in the ice at the base. Sure enough, a beaver's head appeared in the water above the dam. I said hello to Willow. She climbed on top of the dam and slid down its face, pausing briefly before disappearing into the beaver-sized hole at the base.
She reappeared downstream at the old food cache and came up through the ice for an apple. I guess I'll be moving food to the other pond on my next visit.

Time to head home. Zoot did much better on bridge crossings tonight than she did on her last trip out here—not as frightened of the scary trolls.

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